Karen McBride Ellis

Karen McBride Ellis

December 21, 1939 – May 10, 2021

 Preceded in death by husband, Franklin Wayne Ellis; parents, John and Thelma McBride; sister, Mary Elster; granddaughter, Virginia “Ginger” Ellis.  Survived by sons: Wayne Ellis Jr. (Nathan and Sam, their mother, Cara Ellis Skyrpchuk), John Ellis (Paula, their daughters, Jessi and Abby), Joseph Ellis (daughter, Josephina, her mother, Chantil Ellis, wife, Alyssa, sons and daughter, Joel, Elijah and Malena); brother, John McBride (Rhea); nieces and nephews

Karen was raised in Rock Rapids, Iowa and graduated high school in 1957. She attended the University of South Dakota and received her B.S. degree. She met and married Wayne there.

Wayne and Karen came to Omaha, Nebraska in 1961 and were employed as teachers by District 66.  She taught at Westside for two years at the junior high level, then continued her teaching career as an Elementary Physical Education Teacher at Millard School District starting in 1972 and taught there for 35 years.  She received her MS from UNO in 1976 and retired from teaching in 2007.

Karen’s teaching was the love of her life and she treasured the children, their families, and the friendships she made with them.  She was fortunate to be included in many family events of former students like graduations, both high school and college, weddings, and even birth announcements when these students became parents themselves.  Another of her joys came when, as a substitute teacher after retirement, children would approach her and tell her, “You were my mother’s or my dad’s gym teacher.” Karen called these children her second-generation students and she loved meeting and connecting with them.  She always considered herself one of the lucky people in the world who couldn’t wait to get up and go to work at the job she loved each day.

VISITATION observing CDC guidelines: Friday, May 14th from 5pm to 7pm at the West Center Chapel.  FUNERAL: Saturday, May 15th at 10:30am at FaithWestwood United Methodist Church, 4814 Oaks Lane, following CDC guidelines and masks are required.  Interment: Voss Mohr Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the March of Dimes.



  • Stuart Koci Posted May 11, 2021 1:07 pm

    We are thinking of you Joe, Wayne and John! With great love and admiration!!

  • Bridget ONeill Posted May 11, 2021 1:15 pm

    RIP Mrs Ellis. You were loved by so many and will be missed. I will always remember all the good times we had together, weather at Rockwell or hanging out with the “group” or going on cruises…Love you 💗💔

  • JUDY RAMAEKERS Posted May 11, 2021 1:47 pm

    Our deepest thoughts are with you. We shared many wonderful and funny moments together as you boys were growing up. She will be missed deeply.
    Jerry and Judy Ramaekers

  • Sidnee rasmussen Posted May 11, 2021 2:21 pm

    Rest in heaven Mrs.Ellis. You are so dearly missed. Thank you for being the best PE teacher a student could have hoped for. 💛 thank you for years of being the best and for memories that last a lifetime.

  • Brooke M Miller Posted May 11, 2021 2:40 pm

    I am one of her second generation students. Both my mom and dad had her for gym as well as my sister. We all loved her very much. She is the reason I tried basketball when I was younger. She was all around a wonderful person and teacher and will be forever missed. My heart goes out to her family!!

  • Kelly Park Aschwege Posted May 11, 2021 2:43 pm

    Such a great loss to everyone who knew Mrs. Ellis. She was my gym teacher at Central Elementary in the early days…and then was the PE teacher st Rockwell for both of our kids! We all adored her quick wit and easy spirit. She kept on touch with our son for many years after Elementary…where they would compare notes and picks for March Madness.
    Mr Ellis was my principal at Central as well, and they were good friends of my parents. Heaven gained an angel…and I know there’s a rousing welcome for her by the Millard faculty who have gone before. Thank you for sharing your wonderful parents with so many. God bless. Doug abd Kelly Aschwege, Kara and Jordan

  • Douglas Divis Posted May 11, 2021 3:09 pm

    Thank you, Mrs Ellis from two generations of the Divis’. ’May you Rip

  • Dave Nelson Posted May 11, 2021 3:25 pm

    RIP Coach Ellis. Those of us in the “Rebound Triangle” won’t forget your lessons.

  • Jen VonTersch-Schultz Posted May 11, 2021 3:39 pm

    My deepest sympathy to the family. Mrs. Ellis was my PE teacher at Rockwell Elementary 1979-1984. She was one of my all time favorite teachers. She kept in contact with our family and brought food to our house when my brother passed away. (Another student of hers). She was a Wonderful person and will be missed.

  • Peggy Luebbert Posted May 11, 2021 3:53 pm

    Mrs Ellis was special to my four children. RIP

  • Leigh (Ramert) Batten Posted May 11, 2021 5:05 pm

    Proud Rockwell Roadrunner that had the privilege of being one of Mrs. Ellis’ students from 1982-88. Many times over the years, her name came up in conversation with family and friends, always with fond memories of the great woman and teacher she was. So many kids were lucky enough to get that opportunity and we’re all better for it. You will be missed, Mrs. Ellis!

  • Heather Lankton Posted May 11, 2021 5:05 pm

    Rest In Peace Mrs. Ellis. You made Gym class so much fun at Rockwell Elementary. Hands down my favorite class. From Rope Climbing, to the awesome Parachute, Line Tag and the best event of the year- Track and Field Day. I will forever treasure those memories!!

  • Nicole Graf Pesicka Posted May 11, 2021 5:13 pm

    My Sincerest Condolences to your family . Mrs. Ellis was my favorite teacher at Rockwell elementary many moons ago.. I just want to let you know she was loved by many and will be missed.

  • Brian Nemecek Posted May 11, 2021 5:21 pm

    I am so sorry to hear that news! Karen was the nicest person and such a giving person as well! My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time!

  • Ryan McManus Posted May 11, 2021 5:43 pm

    Condolences to the family. She was an amazing teacher and did care about the students very much. I ran into her after I had graduated high school and she knew who I was and asked about all my family. One of the nicest and most sincere person I had known.

  • Jennifer Eno Posted May 11, 2021 6:20 pm

    My deepest condolences! Mrs Ellis was my gym teacher and my 28 year old daughters gym teacher as well. Such a special and amazing woman!!!

  • Pete Svendgard Posted May 11, 2021 6:42 pm

    Joe and John,

    Lisa and I are very sorry to hear of your loss. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.

  • Denise Gellhaus Posted May 11, 2021 7:13 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Our boys were privileged to have Mrs. Ellis for a elementary teacher at MPS Rockwell school, and I was honored to work with her for several years.

  • Susan Gloe Posted May 11, 2021 7:25 pm

    Karen was such a wonderful friend and a great teacher. I’m am blessed to have known her. So sad to hear of her passing.

  • Karen Mannino Posted May 11, 2021 8:51 pm

    Karen you are a angel in heaven. You were a wonderful gym
    Teacher and friend. I’ll miss my pre phone calls when your Dolphins play my Bills!! You will be missed! Love you💕

  • Debra Larsen Troester Posted May 12, 2021 10:48 am

    We are so sorry to hear of your mom’s passing, Wayne, John and Joe. She was a good friend and neighbor to my folks Jayne and Gene Larsen. Jayne sends her love and hugs to you three boys.

  • Jen Tinsley Maninger Posted May 12, 2021 12:15 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers to the family of Mrs. Ellis. She was an icon at Norman Rockwell and seeing her again in my 20s was a blessing. She was a gem and will be missed!

  • Tasha Kelly Posted May 12, 2021 1:27 pm

    Best gym teacher ever! I also had the pleasure of working with Mrs Ellis at Rockwell many moons later. RIP dear one. You made people happy.

  • Tom and Karen O’Connor Posted May 12, 2021 7:11 pm

    Our hearts are broken tonight. We have lost the genuine Pied Piper of schoolchildren…and adults as well.
    Karen Ellis was the most thoughtful, loving, kind person we ever knew and was loved and respected by young and old alike.
    The “perfect woman” mold has been broken this week.
    Our great friend will be sorely missed.
    Heartfelt condolences go out to her beautiful family.
    Please know you are all in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.
    Tom and Karen O’Connor and family

  • Tim Miller Posted May 12, 2021 8:38 pm

    Mrs. Ellis was always very positive and supportive for all students she taught. Even many years after she retired she always remembered her students from the past by name and could recite childhood memories! She was amazing, RIP Mrs. Ellis (Karen) 🥲

    • Bonnie Peterson Posted May 13, 2021 9:04 am

      Selfishly, I cry for myself. One of the most remarkable women a person could ever know. I never went anywhere with her that we didn’t get stopped at the Front door by somebody who knew her. Never had beer and gizzards without multiple people stopping at our table when you are with Karen Ellis you were with her she was not with you she was her own star wherever she went. Sorely missed. Karen and my mom double selves “Two peas in a pod”. They are now together much to our loss. Love and hugs my dear friend

  • Mary Sayre Posted May 13, 2021 8:23 am

    Dear Ellis family, we all lost a lovely friend when Karen died. I taught with her at Rockwell for many years. Karen taught PE and I taught Music. Our classrooms were next door to each other where we would share many fun stories of the Ellis boys, their children, wives and trips together. Karen was a good friend to everyone. Her memory of faces and family connections was extraordinary. A teacher who would attend student games and programs blessed her students. Karen loved teaching. Our condolences are sent to her family. She will be missed.
    Love, Mary and Jeff Sayre

  • Glenn Schanou Posted May 13, 2021 8:56 am

    I was fortunate enough to have worked with Wayne and Karen and taught one of their sons – great people to know and I offer all my sympathies to the family.

  • Linda France Posted May 13, 2021 5:20 pm

    I will miss my friend so very much! She had a heart for the youth she taught, golf, tia chi, love of God and family. She was a good friend to all. May she sing in Heaven and be pain free!

  • LuAnn Knobbe Posted May 14, 2021 1:11 pm

    We will miss Mrs. Ellis. She was the epitome.of a great teacher, person, and friend. Rest In Peace!

  • Miriam Sukraw Posted May 15, 2021 11:54 am

    As a music teacher I was blessed to have Karen for a friend and mentor at Hitchcock, Central, Disney and Rockwell elementary schools. She was a positive influence in my teaching career, and her collegiality and support played a huge role in my life. We shared lunchroom and playground duty for at least nine years! Dear family of Karen – I want you to know that during this difficult time you are loved, prayed for and never, ever alone. God, who provided courage and strength for your mom, is with you always – holding you in the palm of His hand and offering comfort, joy and smiles through memories; and gifting you with peace through Christ Jesus.

  • Bryan Botkin Posted May 18, 2021 5:05 pm

    Despite only knowing me as one of her elementary school P.E. students, Mrs. Ellis was one my biggest supporters when i was in the hospital fighting cancer in 4th grade. The world has lost one of the most and kind and understand people that I’ve ever known. I will keep Karen and the Ellis family in my prayers.

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